Lynyrd Skynyrd have had a career marked by attitude, originality, great successes and unfortunately, many accidents and tragic deaths. One of the most important and influential bands of the ’70s, was formed in Jacksonville, Florida when Ronnie Van Zant, Robert Burns, Larry Junstrom, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins put together group called “The Noble Five” which later became “My Backyard” and thanks to major influence by The Allman Brothers Band, decided to play a mixture of country, blues and hard rock.
Famous “original line-up” was born after keyboard virtuoso Billy Powell, former roadie, joined the group in 1970 and Leon Wilkeson replaced Junstrom on bass just before Skynyrds first album: “Pronounced” LEH-nerd ‘skin-‘nérd” came out in 1973. Album included future classic hits “Free Bird” and “Simple Man”.
Lynyrd Skynyrds second album, “Second Helping”, came out in 1974, and first single “Sweet Home Alabama” (and their biggest hit so far) helped band to receive their first gold record. Third album “Nuthin ‘Fancy” featured the classic “Saturday Night Special” which helped Lynyrd Skynyrd to stay in spotlights.
After “Gimme Back My Bullets” came out in 1976, a few more changes occurred in the line-up: The guitarist Steve Gaines stepped in to place Ed King and band added backing vocals group, The Honkettes, with Jo Jo Billingsley, Leslie Hawkins and Cassie Gaines, sister of Steve Gaines.
Same Year Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded the double live “One More from the Road”, the biggest commercial success of their whole career, and “Free Bird” – the live version, once again bursted into radio waves. Enjoying the success, band wrote and released “Street Survivor” in 1977, which shipped gold. The tracks “That Smell” and “What’s Your Name” have later become solid classics that audiences still love to hear.
Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash
When everything seemed to be going well for Lynyrd Skynyrd, a tragic accident left marks in the history of rock forever: On 20th of October 1977, 26 people, including the band and crew, departed toward the State of Louisiana in private plane rented by the band, a Convair 240. After plane ran out of fuel, it crashed in the forest in Gillsburg, Mississippi, instantly killing Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The others, despite having survived, were seriously injured.
The accident gave Lynyrd Skynyrd huge media exposure and “Street Survivors”, released only four days before the accident, peaked at #5 on the charts and sold eventually over two million copies in US alone. Lynyrd Skynyrd however broke up after the accident. To avoid accusation of cashing in on the accident, MCA Records withdrew the original “flame” cover sleeve of Street Survivors and replaced it where the band is shown against a simple black background.
Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion
In 1987, Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited with Johnny Van Zant, brother of Ronnie, on vocals and released double-live album “Southern By The Grace Of God” and they have released several albums after that with different line-ups. To this day, they remain popular touring act, filling arenas around US and Europe.
Year 2009 has been a difficult one for Lynyrd Skynyrd so far: keyboard player Billy Powell died from heart failure on 28th of January and bass player Ean Evans was diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of January and died on 6th of May.
Lynyrd Skynyrd videos
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Lynyrd Skynyrd Discography:
1973 Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd
1974 Second Helping
1975 Nuthin’ Fancy
1976 Gimme Back My Bullets
1976 One More from the Road (Live)
1977 Skynyrd’s First And… Last
1977 Street Survivors
1987 Southern By The Grace Of God (Live)
1991 Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991
1993 The Last Rebel
1999 Edge of Forever
2000 Christmas Time Again
2003 Vicious Cycle
2004 Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour (Live)
2007 Lyve from Steel Town (Live)
2009 God & Guns
Official website: www.lynyrdskynyrd.com